The first two meetings between the Orlando Magic and the Toronto Raptors featured what both teams do best offensively.
So it was only appropriate Sunday’s matchup, the third in nine days between the two teams, was mostly a defensive battle.
The frequency of playing each other created familiarity, leading to the Magic and the Raptors flustering the opposing offenses.
Ultimately, the Magic capitalized on the advantages and opportunities they created, beating the Raptors 111-99 at Amway Center.
“I loved our grit,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “Our ability to know it was going to be a knockdown drag-out type of game, we stayed the course. Shots may not have been falling early, but our ability to stay the course and stay in the fight [prevailed].”
The victory was the third consecutive for the Magic (8-20), a season-best win streak. The Magic’s previous three-game win streak had been from Feb. 17-21, 2021.
Orlando beat Toronto Friday 113-109 after falling to the Raptors 121-108 in Toronto on Dec. 3. The Magic tipped off the winning streak with a 116-111 home overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday.
Both the Magic and the Raptors struggled to create good scoring opportunities early, leading to the Raptors having a 19-18 lead at the end of the first quarter and both teams shooting under 40% from the field when the Magic took a 47-39 lead into halftime.
The offenses woke up in the second half, with the Raptors winning the third 36-35 to reduce the Magic’s lead to 82-75 heading into the final quarter.
But the Magic got the buckets early in the fourth — and the defensive stops — necessary to create separation.
With the Magic leading 86-79, there was the Franz Wagner pull-up 3 with 10:04 remaining that kicked off a stretch of three consecutive Wagner 3s to give the Magic a 95-79 lead.
“It showed so much trust in each other, our team and the guys willing to make that extra pass, the simple pass,” Mosley said. “We talked about it at halftime: just make the simple play. The simple play is going to be the best play.”
Mo Bamba had a putback dunk and Cole Anthony made a floater to keep the Magic’s lead at 16 in the middle of the fourth, with the Magic holding at least an 8-point advantage for the remainder of the game.
Wagner scored a team-high 23 points, including 11 in the fourth, on 6-of-14 shooting and 8 of 10 on free throws.
Bamba (18 points on 6-of-6 shooting, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks) and Anthony (14 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists) combined for 32 points off the bench.
Paolo Banchero, who made the pull-up midrange shot to give the Magic a 109-99 lead with 46.5 remaining to seal the win, added 20 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists.
Gary Trent Jr. (24 points) and Fred VanVleet (20 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals) led the Raptors (13-14), who’ve lost three of their last four games and five of their last seven.
The Magic held the Raptors to 40% shooting (30 of 75) from the field and 24% on 3s (6 of 25).
Sunday wrapped up the Magic’s “baseball-style” series — when two teams play consecutive games at the same venue with no travel in between — of the season.
They’ll play three more: in Boston (Friday and Dec. 18); in Philadelphia (Jan. 30 and Feb. 1); and vs. Cleveland (April 4 and 6).
Wendell Carter Jr. (strained right foot plantar fascia), Gary Harris (strained right hamstring), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness) and Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) sat Sunday.
The Magic, who are seeking their first four-game win streak since Dec. 23-29, 2020 (the first four games of the 2020-21 season), will wrap up the five-game homestand vs. Atlanta on Wednesday.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.